Scientists develop innovative waterless toilet using nanotechnology19 February 2016
Cranfield University in the UK is developing an innovative toilet that uses nanotechnology to treat human waste, produce clean water and keep smells at bay, taking away the need for water, a sewage system or external power.
The toilet is being developed as part of the global "Reinvent the toilet Challenge" launched by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Nanotechnology is the science of creating and working with materials about one nanometre wide, or one-billionth of a metre. A human hair is about 80,000 nanometres wide.
"Once the waste is in the holding chamber we use membranes that take water out as vapour, which can then be condensed and available for people to use in their homes. The pathogens remain in the waste at the bottom of the holding chamber, so the water is basically pure and clean,” said Dr Alison Parker, lead researcher on the project.
Dr Parker said that despite "significant" interest from developed countries, the toilet is being designed with those who have no access to adequate toilets in mind.
According to the UN children's agency UNICEF and the World Health Organisation, 2.4 billion people, mostly in rural areas, live without adequate toilets.
The World Health Organisation says poor sanitation is linked to transmission of diseases such as cholera, diarrhoea, dysentery, hepatitis A, typhoid and polio.
Cranfield University said its toilet is designed for a household of up to 10 people and will cost just AUS $0.07per day per user.
A replaceable bag containing solid waste coated with a biodegradable nano-polymer which blocks odour will be collected periodically by a local operator.
Initial field-testing of the toilet is likely to take place later this year.